…as timidity does. The Japan Times has it, too, as demonstrated in its editorial last Wednesday. The editorial board is worried about Japan actually achieving an ability to defend proactively itself. The board’s concern was triggered [sic] by a Liberal Democratic Party proposal that
Japan consider developing the ability to strike enemy missile bases. …a response to North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches….
The board fretted that
an attempt by Japan to build up the capability to attack enemy bases could result in destabilizing the region’s security environment by giving an imagined enemy an excuse to carry out pre-emptive strikes on our country.
Never mind that the region’s security environment already is at risk from Japan’s current inability strike (back) at an “imagined” enemy who attacks (including a Japanese ally? That’s the implication of the Times board’s term); Japan can only to receive such a strike, potentially without post hoc answer.
The editorialists did raise a legitimate Constitutional question on the matter:
In 1959, defense chief Shigejiro Ito stated that possessing offensive weapons on the grounds of potential danger of enemy attack as mentioned by Hatoyama runs counter to the Constitution.
However, Ito misunderstood the Japanese Constitution and the duty of any nation’s government. No government may, legitimately, surrender its people, the government’s master, into slavery or destruction; government must mount the means to defend itself. With today’s technologies, that of necessity includes the obligation (not merely the right) to act preemptively if the situation demands it.
Preemptive defensive actions thus still defensive actions, and so they are well within the bounds of Japan’s Constitutional limits on military activity.
The Times‘ board went on:
To equip the Self-Defense Forces with the ability to pound enemy bases would require advanced technologies and equipment…. Possessing these kinds of technologies and equipment could go beyond the principle of defense-only security that the nation has adopted under the postwar Constitution.
Aside from the board’s lack of understanding of the nature of self-defense and the government’s obligation to be able to act preemptively, there’s the question of the board’s limiting principle here. Would, for instance, concluding a treaty with another nation that obligates that nation to defend (and so to conduct preemptive actions for the sake of) Japan be a close enough possession of such technologies to violate the Japanese Constitution? Would concluding a treaty with another nation for that nation to use its technologies to advise Japan and guide Japanese systems to the enemy bases be a close enough possession of such technologies to violate the Constitution? In both cases, after all, Japan would deliberately be making use of these apparently proscribed technologies, if only indirectly.
Japan’s attempt to obtain capabilities to strike enemy bases could be reciprocated by potential enemies, including North Korea, potentially leading to an arms race between the two countries.
Stipulated. Is that better or worse, though, than Japan leaving itself exposed to the enemy’s initiative and the enemy’s possibly nuclear initial attack? Does the board think Japan could survive a nuclear attack, much less answer it successfully?
Does the board think northern Korea (for instance) can maintain such an arms race for a longer time than Japan before it must leave off?
The Times‘ position is just the potential hostage preemptively surrendering itself into hostage status.
And it’s shameful.